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Marta Museum Herford opens 'Stance & Fall: A Wavering World'
Naufus Ramírez-Figueroa, Beber y leer el arcoiris (Detail), 2012, Injektprint, 90 × 60 cm © the artist.

HERFORD.- In a world that appears to be unravelling, we are increasingly called upon to take a clear stance. In the quest for orientation, a firm position can mean rescue – but it can also mean danger. Because the greater the tension and the concentration on our own point of view, the greater the danger of quickly losing control. Between political tension and poetic dissolution, the artists address this contradiction in terms in the exhibition “Stance & Fall – A Wavering World” (29.06. – 06.10.19). With photographs, paintings, drawings, sculptures, installations, videos and performances, they create impressive images of the rearing up and falling down of the body as an echo of society.

“The condition of the mind is often seen in the attitude of the body. Thus the movement of the body is a sort of voice of the soul.” St. Ambrose

Whether gender debates, climate change or the future of Europe: within the various social upheavals, every individual is called upon to question existing structures and to take a stance. From the physical point of view, the adoption of an attitude is finite because gravity ultimately overcomes even the strongest body. If we apply a rigid attitude to the intellectual level, this can mean an inability to move in our thinking, and thus restrict the view of other, possibly more interesting perspectives.

The play with physical tension, the pose and its dissolution has been a theme in art since time immemorial. Building on this picture tradition, an increasing number of contemporary artists are now engaging with pairs of opposites such as stance and fall, tension and relaxation, control and loss of control. Stretched to the maximum, theatrically staged, struggling bodies broken by exhaustion form the focus of the works that stand as symbolic images for an existential questioning of being. Here some examples:

The installation “Limits of Control” (2012) by Robert Barta (*1975, Prague) is activated when visitors walk into it. A room filled with 500,000 iron balls for common ball bearings calls on us to test our own lack of footing. Stumbling, sometimes incapable of movement, or gliding elegantly, the participants generate their own, new order in chaos beyond all conventions.

The bodies of the young hip-hop dancers from the photo series, “La Chute” (2005 – 2006) by Denis Darzacq (*1961, Paris) appear to defy the physical laws of gravity. Against the urban background of Paris, the impressive poses move almost weightlessly across the floor between tension and loss of control.

Who is actually pulling the strings? Dancers, people in uniform, clowns as well as animals and mythical creatures populate the bizarre and scary room models by Marcel Dzama (*1974, Winnipeg). In the middle of carnivalesque antics, the installations tell a story of suppression and violence, while the protagonists remain frozen in their rigid poses.

The interaction with the human being is at the centre of the installation “Stage” (2017) by Christian Falsnaes (*1980, Copenhagen): the visitors receive instruction via headphones that they then have to act out on a stage. The originally passive viewers thus become the executors, influencing the installation through their individual interpretations. The artist thus suspends the distance between audience and work, and demands that people display an attitude.

An explicitly political perspective is shown by Naufus Ramírez-Figueroa (*1978, Guatemala City) in hisperformance “Rainbow Action (after Cezary Bodzianowski)” (2011/2019): he paints himself with the colours of the rainbow and then bends his body into the shape of a rainbow to leave an imprint on the wall. As a motif, the rainbow stands for awakening, peace, diversity and tolerance. With this the artist is drawing attention to the continued suppression of minorities in his homeland of Guatemala.

Sequences of the video “The Fall” (2004/2019) by Peter Welz (*1972, Lauingen) are projected onto a free-standing room sculpture about 4 metres tall whose form is derived from the tilted Gehry architecture of the museum. Almost without braking, the bodies of two dancers appear to collide, but then slowly regain their posture. The rhythm and the sound create an atmosphere in the Marta Dome between anxiety and fascination, while the falling bodies appear close-up and intensive.

Visitors to the new Marta exhibition are called upon again and again to actively take a stance: in guided tours and workshops, but in particular in the entrance gallery you can try out the feeling of stumbling and falling for yourself.

In connection with the exhibition “Stance & Fall” there is a close collaboration with the Johannes Falk House in Hiddenhausen near Herford that supports children and teenagers with special promotion needs in their individual development. This cooperation was the reason for the implementation of their own reception level: exhibition texts were drawn up in “simple language”, i.e. without foreign words, abstract or metaphorical terms in order to give people who do not fully master the German language comprehensible access to content and connections.

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